“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.” – Wendell Berry
I grew up in New York City, with a stereotypical city persons respect for farmers. In other words, I considered farmers to be a caricature or a cartoon, with a red neck, buck-teeth, and a piece of straw between their lips, unable to put together a coherent sentence.
Kinda like this guy.
Over the years, that has of course, evolved after attending farmers markets, workshops, reading literature, and all those other ways we come to open our minds., but it took a long time to fully understand (and I’m not sure I even do yet) how brilliantly intellectual and intelligent many (if not most!) farmers are. Farmers, particularly those involved in permaculture and other self-sufficient eco-systems, are not only required to be incredibly well educated as they go against common wisdom, but must live with a passion unlike most we have seen, since they are continuously fighting the norm in their industry to create a better world for the rest of us.
Over the weekend with Joel Salatin, I met some extraordinary people with perspectives drastically different from my own, and have asked them to write for me. I have also reached out to some wonderful writers in the field, to share their thoughts and experiences. I hope to be able to offer on a frequent basis the works of these farmers, who often seem so disconnected from our urban or suburban life, but who are fighting an extraordinary and deeply personal battle to rectify the damage we have done to the earth over the past 100 years. I hope you will take the time to read their thoughts, experiences and often fascinating perspectives. If you have any particular author you’d like to hear from, or topic you would like to learn about, please let me know. I’d love to find someone to share it with you.
This coming Tuesday, I feel privileged to be able to start this series with an essay from Harvey Ussery, author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers. His book, an encyclopedic tome about the art of raising poultry, contains an essay about the morality of raising chickens that fascinated me. After reaching out to him, he sent me a slightly more general version of the same theme, that expanded to the more open thoughts of raising meat. I’m so looking forward to sharing it with you.